GOP leaders agree to consider Dec. 30 spending bill

GOP leaders agree to consider Dec. 30 spending bill
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House Republican leaders have agreed to consider extending government funding until Dec. 30, rather than having it expire just days before Christmas, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus said Monday.

Leadership's initial plan to avoid a shutdown was to pass a two-week spending bill on Wednesday that would keep the government funded up to Dec. 22. Current funding for fiscal 2018 runs out Friday.

But House Freedom Caucus members protested the plan and held up a Monday night vote to go to conference with the Senate on tax legislation until they received assurances from leadership that they would consider an alternative strategy. 

“I’m not saying there’s any commitment to do anything. I’m just saying there’s a commitment to talk further,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Sondland testimony looms over impeachment hearings this week Democrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after the vote. “And I feel very good about the dialogue that I had with the Speaker.”

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While the conservative bloc had originally pressed for a spending bill that stretches into January, the Dec. 30 date appears to be a compromise that could be more palatable to more moderate Republican members.

But it's still unclear whether both chambers would be willing to go along with the idea. 

The issue will be posed to members during Tuesday morning's GOP conference meeting ahead of a House Rules Committee vote on the two-week spending measure. Leadership indicated that there would be enough time to make changes to the stop-gap bill if they wanted to, Meadows said.

“We think there’s a growing consensus that Dec. 30 would work,” Meadows said.

The conference vote on taxes took a dramatic turn Monday night as the tally became unexpectedly tied up. Members of the Freedom Caucus, who were huddled with leadership on the House floor, appeared to be blocking the motion from moving forward.

Meadows could be seen engaged in an intense conversation with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySaagar Enjeti expresses concern over MSNBC hosting debate after Weinstein scandal Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled Saagar Enjeti blasts alleged Epstein cover-up by media MORE (R-Calif.). Meadows, who also spoke with President Trump on the phone a little earlier, worked to extract promises from leadership that they would be more open to negotiating with them over the continuing resolution, or CR.

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIs Joe Biden finished? Krystal Ball previews fifth Democratic debate Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Wis.) also agreed to raise the Dec. 30 CR idea with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (R-Ky.). 

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, had initially cast a “no” vote on the conference motion. But once Meadows and Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWill Republicans continue to engage in willful blindness? How Democrats can avoid fatal flaws of their impeachment inquiry Live coverage: Schiff closes with speech highlighting claims of Trump's corruption MORE (R-Ohio) got assurances from leadership, he and others flipped their vote to “yes.”

“There was supposed to be a promise of better negotiations in the way the CR is going to happen,” DesJarlais told reporters after the vote.

In the end, seven Republicans voted against the tax motion, and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash: GOP acts like 'we're all stupid' over impeachment hearings Trump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Hoyer: We are going to move as fast 'as the facts and truth dictate' on open hearings MORE (R-Mich.) was the only Freedom Caucus member to do so. The other Republicans who voted against the motion also voted against the House's tax bill in November.

The Freedom Caucus's holdup on the tax motion to gain leverage on the CR did not go over well with other Republicans.

"Trying to take out going to conference on tax reform, I don't think that's the best route," said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerNorth Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Intercollegiate athletics just got a two-minute warning North Carolina ruling could cost GOP House seats MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of another conservative group, the Republican Study Committee.

Conservative lawmakers prefer punting spending talks into January because they believe they will have more leverage to get a better deal on a massive, trillion-dollar omnibus package. They worry a deadline so close to Christmas will result in a spending package loaded with extraneous items they won't like.

But Democrats and some moderate Republicans have threatened to oppose any spending legislation that stretches into 2018 if it doesn’t include a fix for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

And defense hawks have been opposing a January CR because they want a deal on top-line spending numbers before the end of the year that would provide a funding boost for the Pentagon.

Meadows cited the “push back” as to why his group couldn’t get promises on a January CR. But he said that moving the deadline to before the New Year is still better than before Christmas.

“We’d like to do [a January CR], but apparently there’s some push back,” Meadows said. “There is a whole lot more pressure to get home for Christmas than there is for New Years.”

—Scott Wong and Naomi Jagoda contributed to this report. Last updated at 8:47 p.m.